Friday, May 4, 2012

Writing Sample: "A Fresh Start"

With the deadline-driven insanity of April's A-to-Z blogging challenge over, the good news is that I'm writing again.  I have a couple of new pieces in the works, and am blowing the dust off several others and getting them ready for re-submission.

I'd love to be able to tell you about all the acceptances I received while the A-to-Z challenge was going on, but unfortunately there haven't been any.  Perhaps that's because the bulk of the things that were out in submission were pieces that had been rejected previously -- so I'm hoping the fresh-eyed 'dust-off' I mentioned above will breathe some new life into them.

Meanwhile, I've also reacquainted myself with the Creative Copy Challenge site and have created a quick piece for yesterday's prompt, just to help flex the writing chops a bit.  So I thought I'd post it here as well.  The ten words from yesterday's prompt were:

  1. Office
  2. Early
  3. Hidden
  4. Blind
  5. Stout
  6. Heading
  7. Drab
  8. Flow 
  9. Feed
  10. Silent

What I came up with is below.  I hope you enjoy it!


"A Fresh Start"

The office was on the twenty-sixth floor of a sleek tower on North Michigan Street across from the Wrigley Building.  An expanse of windows offered an impressive eastern panorama of the Chicago River, the NBC Tower, and Navy Pier stretching out into Lake Michigan, but the view was mostly hidden behind shades that had been lowered to reduce the glare from the bright morning sun.  Jen busied herself organizing the few items in her sparse cube while she waited for her boss to arrive. 
She'd shown up early, eager to begin the first day of her new life; anxious to move past the horror and madness of New York.  As she adjusted the position of her stapler, she silently prayed for everything in her past to remain hidden.  She wanted nothing more than to quickly and quietly assume the mundane day-to-day existence of Jennifer Wilson, commercial insurance claims adjuster. 
A phlegm-filled flow of coughs from the cube next to Jen announced the arrival of a stout man in a drab and wrinkled black suit. He dropped his briefcase onto the desk with a thud and peered over the low cube wall at Jen.  She gave him what she hoped was a friendly smile.
"Good morning," she said.
"Morning," he replied.  "You must be the new adjuster.  I'm Paul Darden."  He stepped around the wall and into Jen's cube, offering his hand.
She stood to greet him.  "Jennifer Wilson," she said, taking his clammy hand and giving it a brief shake.  Up close, he reeked of cigarette smoke and too much cologne.
"Nice to meet'cha.  I'm --" he said, but his words were interrupted by another cluster of coughs.  He tried to cover his mouth with one hand, raised a finger with his other, and then backed out of her cube and headed down the aisle, hacking each step of the way.
Jen didn't know if he was heading for a drinking fountain or outside for another cigarette, but she didn't really care.  The main thing was that he'd seemed completely blind as to who she really was. 
That was perfect. 
She wanted nothing to hint of exposure or danger; nothing to feed her barely-contained sense of dread; nothing to even remotely remind her of the terror she so desperately wanted to forget.
A smooth and deep voice intruded on her thoughts.  "Hi there.  You're new."
Jen turned to see a young man with a crooked smile and powder-blue eyes.  His red tie was loosely knotted around the collar of his pinstriped shirt.
"Hi," Jen said. "I'm the new adjuster.  Jennifer Wilson." 
"Anton Rivera," he said.
He offered his hand and Jen took it, feeling a brief tingle from a spark of static electricity. Then, as she broke the contact between them, she saw the corners of his mouth sag slightly, and noticed his bright eyes cloud for just a moment.
"It's great to meet you," he said.  "I'm sure you're going to like it here.  We're a pretty good group."
"Oh, I'm sure you are," she said, trying to ignore what she'd seen.  Or at least what she thought she'd seen.
"I guess you'll be in our eight o'clock department meeting," he said.  "We can talk more then."  He gave her a wink before leaving.
Jen fought to maintain her smile, but she felt like the floor below her had just given way.
He knew. 
He'd done nothing obvious, and had been completely silent on anything that would have made it apparent, but Jen was certain of it none the less.
Damn it, he knew.
She had hoped Chicago would be a clean break and a fresh start, but it was clear that there would be no escaping.  No relief. No peace.
He would have to die like all the others.

# # #


Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Good stuff, dude.

Chris Fries said...

Thank you very much, Susan!

Megan said...

I wish you all the best with your re-submission and your new works :) I have been writing for a decade (give or take a few months) and have never finished a novel (started MANY) and have never submitted anything except what I post on my blog and one excerpt on So I am extremely jealous! Very exciting for you! Plus, I like the little story you came up with for the 10 words. It's something I think I'm going to try so thanks for the suggestion :)

Happy Writing!

The Golden Eagle said...

Good luck re-submitting your writing!

That's a great story. I love the twist at the end!

Chris Fries said...

@Megan: Thank you very much for the kind words of support! I want to offer you my encouragement as well -- go for it! You never know until you try!

Chris Fries said...

@Eagle: Thank you! I really appreciate it!